Progress in the Ukraine conflict may have been announced, but the US and Russia seemed to be far from reaching an agreement at the UN Security Council meeting in Berlin.
In a blunt exchange, the US renamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest strategy for peace an ‘occupation plan’.
Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN, referred to a peace plan made in Minsk, Belarus, in September 2014. Ukraine, Russia and the separatist leaders agreed to the proposal, which aimed to put an end to the conflict.
“Let us pull away from Putin’s peace plan and call it for what it is – a Russian occupation plan,” said Power. “We need to implement the peace plans we already have, peace plans Russia has signed and broken. If Russia is serious about peace, it should follow through on Minsk, which it agreed to more than four months ago.”
“Time and again President Putin has extended an olive branch in one hand, while passing out grad missiles and tanks with the other.”
Russia was equally candid. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin blamed Washington and Kyiv for the recent increase in fighting in the east of Ukraine.
“(Throughout the Ukrainian crisis,) the United States has been playing a destructive role. But you actually have to call a spade a spade,” he said. “They have been provocative. After every visit of high-ranking US officials to Ukraine, the Kyiv government has stepped up the confrontational nature of its activities.”
More than 4,800 people have died in violence in the east since April 2014.
Kirovsky, in the west of Donetsk, was damaged in shelling on January 21. One person was wounded, according to local residents.
In the week running up to the UN Security Council meeting, Putin announced a peace plan for the region, which Moscow says was later rejected by Ukraine.
The council is now deadlocked on Ukraine, despite dozens of talks to try to resolve the conflict.